All white on the night for Australian elections

SYDNEY, August 8, 2010 (AFP) – Despite its Aboriginal roots and a large Asian population, Australia’s politics are almost exclusively white with just a handful of ethnic minority candidates in this month’s elections. Australia’s diversity — from Outback townships to Sydney’s Chinatown and growing numbers of South and Southeast Asians — is poorly reflected in its leaders, who remain typically Caucasian, middle-aged and male.

Malaysian-born Senator Penny Wong is the government’s lone Asian face, while the candidates of both major parties include only half a dozen of obvious Asian ancestry, from a list of more than 300.

Labor’s Tauto Sansbury is the only Aboriginal candidate, highlighting the extent to which native Australians, whose history on the continent stretches back tens of thousands of years, are sidelined.

“I’m doing this to try and create a lot more interest from the Aboriginal community that we have a place in politics and that there should be more people like myself running for politics,” he said.

Australia’s history is steeped in Asian immigration, from Gold Rush Chinese miners and Japanese pearl-divers of the late 1800s, to Vietnamese refugees and Chinese students given residency